After a brutal shootout turned a quiet Tijuana cul-de-sac into a war zone last October, leaving one Mexican soldier and four drug cartel suspects dead, investigators combing through the carnage found the weapons: assault rifles, a massive .50-caliber sniper rifle, even a hand grenade. Fourteen guns were seized. Five of them were bought last summer in Las Vegas, says the San Diego Union-Tribune. Las Vegas was the northern portal of a gun-smuggling pipeline that funneled weapons purchased in Nevada through California and into Tijuana.
The operation appears to be a prime example of what Mexican authorities have long pleaded with the U.S. government to help curb: the southbound flow of guns that provides Mexico’s drug traffickers with the bulk of their firepower. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that 90 percent of the guns recovered from crime scenes in Mexico can be traced back to the United States. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence issued a report, “Exporting Gun Violence: How Our Weak Gun Laws Arm Criminals in Mexico and America.” It documents how Mexican drug gangs have exploited weak American gun laws and corrupt American gun sellers to amass arsenals of guns that have killed thousands. The report is available at www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/pdf/reports/exporting-gun-violence.pdf.